The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Navigator program, which funds groups and individuals to help walk people through the Obamacare sign-up process, is being cut financially once again by the Trump administration, this time from $36 million to $10 million. In 2017, funding stood at $63 million.
Regardless of the federal outlay, the Navigator program has routinely helped fewer than 1 percent of all Obamacare insurance seekers.
“It’s time for the Navigator program to evolve, which is why we are announcing a new direction for the program today,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “This decision reflects CMS’ commitment to put federal dollars for the federally-facilitated exchanges to their most cost effective use in order to better support consumers through the enrollment process.”
During grant year 2016-2017, 17 Navigators enrolled fewer than 100 people at an average cost of $5,000 per enrollee. In addition, nearly 80 percent of Navigators failed to reach their enrollment goal, according to CMS.
This enrollment year, which begins in November, Navigators will be asked to explain options beyond ACA policies to consumers, options such as short-term insurance policies and association health plan (AHP) policies.
The 2018 enrollment period ended up with 11.7 million consumers purchasing ACA policies, but more than 80 percent of them were eligible for subsidies to bring their premiums down to the $100-a-month range.